to read or not to read

Where are you when you hear interesting ideas?

Whoa! Don’t trot out your reading list of journals and organizations. You know that sometimes, as diligent as you are to read the high-brow articles and slosh through the low-brow culture of blogs, microblogs, newsfeeds, and listservs, you simply stumble upon an idea in a weird space.

Take about a half hour ago as I was walking/running on the treadmill listening to NPR on the radio (no, I don’t have an iPod; donations accepted). Here comes a story about book trailers. I swear I never heard of them before. If I want a book, I might as easily go to a bookstore as to Amazon, but at neither have I ever heard of or seen a book trailer.

Turns out they are like movie trailers, with actors and all, but meant to entice you into reading the book. Works for me, as I am the kind of reader who visualizes as she reads, concocting my own movie as I go along. Makes for slow reading, but that’s what works.

As suggested in the NPR piece, Googling “book trailers” brings up a host of sites, like Book Trailers. Apparently almost all books are promoted this way, although I have my doubts about the next critical theory tome, if those are indeed still published. Makes me wonder how this phenomenon can inspire student projects, perhaps a better version of the old book review. gather a group of your friends to rehearse an interesting scene from The Sound and the Fury and finish with your evaluation, sitting in an armchair in front of a fireplace. I’d much rather grade that effort.

Earlier today, I was reading “The Pleasure of Half-Read Books” by William McMillen in the paper version of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Now, I can relate to that. There are some books I can never finish and some authors I can never read (Bellow, for example). McMillen gives us permission to half-read away.

Well, here are these two stories rolling around in my head today, fed by the endorphins from the treadmill jaunt, I suppose. Half-reading books and watching trailers for new ones. At once, vindication and enticement.

Categories: digital literacy, technology

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